Fly-tipping in the countryside has risen by more than 300 per cent during the coronavirus crisis.
Closing council tips is blamed for the dramatic increase.
Researchers at two universities studied data from local authorities in the UK.
Professor Ian Williams, of the School of Engineering at the University of Southampton, said:
“This pandemic has been a wake-up call to governments and the waste sector to ensure that supply chains and markets for recyclates are diverse and resilient.
“Our current waste management system will need to evolve to be resilient to the impacts of these rare, extreme, global events to create a successful circular economy.”
David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, added:
“There are concerns that unscrupulous traders are exploiting social distancing rules in some areas to try and provide illegal waste disposal services.
“Councils appreciate residents may have larger amounts of rubbish building up and they will continue to work hard to keep waste and recycling services working as effectively as possible.”